We are now well into the third week of 2019. 
I pray that your New Year has gotten off to a great start and that you are on your way to accomplishing the New Year’s resolutions that you set.
We love the idea of a new year, because we enjoy the opportunity of starting over. We love new beginnings, which is why we get such joy out of the birth of a baby.
Thankfully, we serve a God who also loves new beginnings – who loves to create new things.
The Bible begins with the story of God doing something brand new. God did not begin with raw materials in the creation of the Universe, but created everything out of nothing.
Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (ESV)
As we will see later, this concept is critical in understanding the process of salvation.
For now, let’s begin with God’s work in the creation.
Isaiah 45:18 For thus saith the Lord that CREATED the heavens; God himself that FORMED the earth and made it; he hath ESTABLISHED it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited (PURPOSE): I am the Lord; and there is none else. (KJV)
The word “established” means that God RESTORED, repaired, and made the world ready. Remember that in the beginning, the earth was “without form and void.” Before the world could fulfill God’s purpose in creation, it had to be restored or made ready.
Before God CREATED the Universe, He had already CALLED or determined the PURPOSE of the earth – that is, to be inhabited by man. This point is also important to remember when we look at salvation later in this article.
The Apostle Peter reminds us that the earth was “formed out of water and through water by the word of God” (2 Peter 3:5), and that by His own word, He also PRESERVES the world.
2 Peter 3:7 By the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept (PRESERVED) until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
In other words, in spite of the fears of radical environmentalists and the warnings of political doomsayers, the world can never be destroyed until it has first fulfilled God’s purpose. That is, God is actively about the business of preserving the earth “until the day of judgment.”
Therefore, of His own will and by His own word, God CREATED, FORMED, READIED, PURPOSED, and PRESERVES the Universe. God did all of this, not because of any merit found in the Creation, but because of His sovereign will and power. That is why He added at the end of the text, “I am the Lord; and there is none else.”
This understanding of the doctrine of God relates directly to the understanding of God’s purpose in creation, in the election of Israel, and in the salvation of man, as we will see later in the article.
Next, we will see these same truths applied to God’s chosen nation of Israel.
God purposefully called the nation of Israel to be His chosen people – a nation that did not exist at the time He called them. He did not look for a suitable nation among all the nations of the world to call His own. Instead, He created that nation, Israel.
Isaiah 43:1 Thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not verwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Just as in the creation, God needed no raw materials (a pre-existing nation) to establish a people for His own purpose.
Thus says the Lord, he who CREATED you, O Jacob…
The nation of Israel was not created by the design of man. The Bible gives us no indication that there was anything special about Abram except that God chose to use him.
God called Abram out of all that he had ever known and into a country that he had never seen to live among people he had never met, so that all that would ever come from him could only be ascribed to the God who had called him.
And so the roots of a nation were CREATED in the seed of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob and his twelve sons.
…he who FORMED you, O Israel…
The nation of Israel was not formed by…
- refugees seeking freedom or trying to escape persecution or oppression
- by a colonizing nation seeking to expand its own sovereignty to other lands
- by politicians seeking to create a unique form of government in the world
Instead, the nation of Israel was formed in the midst of oppression and slavery and captivity in a land far from that which was originally promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
God told Abraham that in its infancy, the nation of Israel would spend 400 years at the mercy of the master nation of Egypt (Genesis 15:13).This may sound like the idea of some deranged supernatural being instead of the God of love.
Yet God knew that, while Israel was held captive in Egypt, the nation would grow in number and form without fear of threat from any other nation. When those 400 years had passed and the time came for the Exodus, the original 70 members of the family of Jacob had grown into the millions that made up the people of Israel.
“Fear not, for I have REDEEMED you…
God had a plan.
That plan called for the nation of Israel to take possession of the land God had originally promised to Abraham’s descendants.
Before the nation of Israel could fulfill the purpose for which God CREATED and FORMED it, God would need to REDEEM his people from their captivity in Egypt. He must prepare and ready them for the PURPOSE for which He had created them.
Through Moses, God led them first through the waters of the Red Sea, destroying their captors behind them, and led them on to Sinai where He gave them the law, which began their establishment as a formal nation.
After an arduous journey across a barren wilderness, through storms and drought, thirst and starvation, internal conflict and external wars, the nation eventually crossed over the Jordan into the Land of Promise.
God did not just CREATE, and FORM, and REDEEM this nation, but He also CALLED them.
I have CALLED you by name, you are mine.
First, He CALLED them by name.
There is an intimacy in Israel’s relationship with their Creator that no nation had ever known before in the history of the world. Their God – Jehovah, the Great “I AM” – was like no other god known by any other people or nation, because their relationship with Him was personal.
Secondly, He CALLED them to a PURPOSE.
When God called Abram out of Ur, He promised…
Genesis 12:1-3 “…I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
…I will be with you…
Finally, God promised to PRESERVE the nation of Israel. Look again at the text.
Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
Of His own will and by His own word, God CREATED, FORMED, REDEEMED, CALLED (PURPOSED), and PRESERVES His chosen nation, and He does so, not because Israel was deserving, but because He is sovereign Lord.
Look again at verse 3…
Isaiah 43:3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
This final point is important in fully understanding the concept of salvation. So let’s look at how these concepts apply to the salvation of man.
Just like the Old Testament, the New Testament begins with “In the beginning…”
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word…”
Once again, the emphasis is on the Word of God – not the Bible, but the person of Christ and the authority of the Father.
1 Peter 1:23 …you have been born again…through the living and abiding word of God.
James 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth…
By this same Word, God instituted a new covenant and the promise of a new creation.
2 Cor. 5:17 …if anyone is in Christ, he is a new CREATION. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
We have already established that God does not require any raw material to create a Universe or a nation, and He needs no “raw materials” to make a new CREATION out of man. In other words, there is nothing that anyone can bring to the table that would cause God to save them or which would make them worthy of salvation.
Eph. 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
This is a critical concept in understanding God’s plan of redemption.
He did not require anything of substance – neither time, space, nor matter – to create the Universe. The creation was His idea – the direct result of His own will and purpose.
He did not require a pre-existing nation in order to create a people unto Himself. Of His own will and for His own purpose He called a nation into existence where there was no nation.
The same thing is true in salvation.
Neither our works, our attitude, our actions, our behavior, our will, nor anything else that we have to offer has any influence on God making a new creation out of us if He chooses. Nor can any of these things prevent God from saving someone if He so desires.
Five times the Bible informs us, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.” By His own will and for His own purpose He saves. That is what the Bible means when it refers to grace.
Not only does God CREATE us in Christ Jesus; He is also about the business of FORMING us through sanctification.
Rom. 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be CONFORMED to the image of his Son…
Gal. 4:19 Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed (FORMED) in your lives. (NLT)
All of this is part of God’s plan of redemption.
Titus 2:14 Christ gave himself for us, that he might REDEEM us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Just as with the creation of the Universe and the creation of Israel, God creates and forms us and calls us according to His eternal PURPOSE, and this calling was established before we were ever formed in the womb.
Rom. 8:28 We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are CALLED according to his PURPOSE.
Eph. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand (PURPOSED), that we should walk in them.
Typically, when we think of the purpose of salvation, we think of forgiveness of sin, deliverance from the wrath of God and from the punishment of hell, as well as the promise of heaven with streets of gold and the absence of tears.
All of these are certainly the blessings of salvation, but the primary purpose of salvation is first of all that we might fulfill the kingdom work that God has planned for us from eternity, and secondly, for His own glory.
Philippians 1:9,11 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more…to the glory and praise of God.
There are some who hesitate to come to Christ for salvation out of fear that they will not be able to maintain their standing before God.
The Bible makes it very clear that when a person is called to Christ for salvation, there is no possibility of ever losing what God has gifted to you.
Paul wrote to Timothy…
2 Tim. 4:18 The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and PRESERVE me for His heavenly kingdom.
The writer of Hebrews tells us how this happens…
Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering he (Christ) has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
The message of the New Testament is that God, by His own will and power and through the blood of Christ…
- CREATES a new person, enabling them to believe
- FORMS them into the image of Christ
- REDEEMS them from the curse of sin
- CALLS them to fulfill His PURPOSE of good works determined before they were born
- PRESERVES those whom He calls until they achieve glory
God loves new beginnings.
Even today, He is looking to make a new creation out of all who will believe that He does not lie and will do all that He promised.